Rip Off Britain: A look at the rising cost of parking at train stations

A reader mentioned this BBC programme, Rip Off Britain, which this morning had an item about the rising cost of parking at train stations. (It is available online for 11 days and the item is 7.52 minutes in).

Rail fares have risen this year (nationally) by an average of 5.9% but it is nothing, according to the BBC, compared to some prices they have heard about in some railway car parks. The residents of Blackheath in SE London are angry. The station car park is an essential part of the local community. It is used by commuters, shoppers, locals, teachers etc. The costs rocketed this year. One resident says she cannot afford to park there any more.

There was an 80% increase in the cost of an annual parking permit. Last year it was £500. Now it is £900.

In February, Network Rail took over the running of the car park from the council and immediately increased the price of parking. A ticket used to cover you for the station car park and the other council car parks in the village. But, the council are now charging an additional £500 for an annual season ticket to park in their car parks as well.

Network Rail say all profits from car parks “are put back into the running of Britain’s railway.” In the case of Blackheath the price hikes with help them carry out major improvements to the running of the car park for the benefit of all users. And while some charges have gone up, others have gone down. There’s been an increase in demand and the economic vitality of the village has not been affected.

A local Headmaster said his biggest beef is that there has been little or no consultation on this. There’s been no due process to allow the local community to have a voice.

A local chef thinks the price hikes are stopping people spending time in Blackheath.

The BBC says Network Rail is “what you could call the Fat Controller of the UK’s rail industry.” It earns and operates all the UK’s rail infrastructure but it only operates a few car parks. Many of the rest are run by the train operating companies themselves.

(Haslemere’s train station car park is run by Network Rail).

Of some of the train operating companies who also run car parks:

First Capital Connect have increased car park charges by an average of 12.3% – because of significant improvements they have made.

South West Trains have increased their parking rates by 6.5% this year – because of multimillion pound investments to benefit passengers.

South Eastern have increased charges by 50P per day (£182 per annum). They say revenue raised in their car parks barely covers the cost.

The TSSA, Transport Union thinks rail users are being ripped off, charges are excessive, rail users are effectively being robbed and that the government needs to regulate car park charges at stations.